Ska punk pioneers and mainstays Goldfinger have just released a belter of an album after eight long years away whilst frontman John Feldmann was busy producing some of the biggest albums in the rock scene, for bands such as Biffy Clyro, Blink-182, and 5 Seconds Of Summer, to name but a few.
The band’s seventh full-length, ‘The Knife’, not only boasts some of the best music that the band has done to date, but also features some of the biggest names in the pop-punk scene today, such as Mike Herrera, Mark Hoppus, and Travis Barker. We had a quick chat with Feldmann to talk about the record, why he’s come from behind the production desk and into the recording booth, and what’s on his mind right now.
DP!: Hello, Mr. Feldmann! How’s your summer going so far?
J: So far, it has been an amazing summer. I just won an influencer award from Alternative Press, my son is learning how to surf, and I moved to Calabasas. I love my life!
DP!: Back in 2015, you said something along the lines of “We’ll probably release a song or two, but don’t know if we’re going to release albums anymore.” This is (thankfully) not the case, and you have a brand new album, ‘The Knife’. What made you start making your own new music again, instead of just producing for others?
J: I kept getting fired up seeing all of the bands that I was working with play shows. Plus, I had a bunch of songs stockpiled that I thought were great but that other artists didn’t think were appropriate for them, so I used them for me. I think that the great thing about rock ‘n’ roll is that you’re allowed to change your mind, and I changed my mind. I do love playing shows, but I miss my kids when I’m on the road. It’s a quandary. I hope this album will do the Goldfinger legacy proud.
DP!: I’ve listened to ‘The Knife’, and it’s one of the most ska punk records that you’ve made to date, dare I say the skankiest. Was there any particular reason you chose this direction for the album?
J: Skankiest? I love it, haha. I wanted to make a record that would touch into all aspects of what Goldfinger is. ‘Hang-Ups’ is probably our most ska album overall I feel. The one I call ‘Get What I Need’ is a song that I wrote with Nate Albert, the guitarist for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Luke Hemmings from 5 Seconds Of Summer wanted to write a ska song too. The song that I wrote with Rome From Sublime was also ska leaning. I do think it was intentional to touch upon some of the fast punk stuff, the pop-punk stuff, the reggae stuff, and also the ska stuff. I really love this album.
DP!: On the track ‘Am I Deaf?’, you talk of getting old, staying relevant and whatnot. But, I would argue that you’re more relevant than ever having produced some major albums last year, one of which was nominated for a Grammy as well as still drawing a huge crowd to every show you play. Was this song just done in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, or do you honestly think this?
J: That’s very kind of you. This was a very serious song when I wrote it six years ago, and it still holds true today. Everything is evolving so fast that I think it creates a tremendous anxiety in humans in general, and I am a human! I am honoured that people still show up when we play, and that albums I work with continue to stay relevant, but the business is very confused on what the future looks like for music in general. All I can do is stay true to myself and make music that I love to play in my car. As long as I stay true to me, everything usually works out.
DP!: A lot of people discovered you thanks to ‘Superman’ featuring on the soundtrack for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. I am guilty of this also, but for a different song, and that’s ‘Spokesman’ from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. I loved the venomous commentary on the awful state of, well, everything. But this was over 15 years ago, and things are just so much worse now right. Would you ever consider writing a ‘Spokesman 2’?
J: ‘Spokesman’ is an interesting song because I do write music for other people now, and I wrote that song in an era where no-one in pop music was writing their own songs. Tony Hawk certainly didn’t help my band tremendously, though we are very grateful to be involved in two of his video games. I don’t know if there is a part two to that song in the horizon, but we’ll have to see and wait. Songs come to me when they are ready.
DP!: Whilst we’re on the topic of those games, did you ever skateboard?
J: I was a carver – a downhill skateboarder. I never got into street tricks, or ollies, or ramps. I basically surf when I skate.
DP!: There are a lot of big names featured on this album, to the point where Goldfinger is now almost a super group. Is there anyone who you wanted to feature on a track but just couldn’t get a hold of for it?
J: Everyone that I wanted to be on the album is on the album. These are all my long-time friends and collaborators. I think if there was any more, it would’ve almost been a hip-hop album or mixtape.
DP!: On the cover artwork for ‘The Knife’, there is a gravestone that reads “R.I.P Lightning”. Who is Lightning, may I ask?
J: Lightning is my old dog, who was tragically killed two months ago by coyotes. He is missed every day, and I really wanted to make a dedication to him on the cover
DP!: And finally some quick fire questions to end on; what’s your favourite song that you’ve written so far?
J: The songs about my kids, Milla and Julian, and ‘Ashley’, which was written with Escape The Fate. I love ‘San Simeon’, as it’s one of my favourite songs to play live. I love ‘Question’ too, along with ‘Tijuana Sunrise’ from the new album. That’s one that I’m very proud of as it is a true story.
DP!: What’s the first album that you ever bought?
J: The ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ motion picture soundtrack.
DP!: What’s your personal cure for a hangover?
J: I haven’t had a drink in about 28 years, but back in the day it used to be just more alcohol.
DP!: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
J: ‘Still Of The Night’ by Whitesnake.
DP!: Now, to wrap things up and end on a high, what is the best thing in your life right now?
J: My family!
The band’s seventh full-length album, ‘The Knife’, is out now through Rise Records.
Interview by Andy Roberts (@sassensquatch)